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Tax Reform Made Me Do It!

Michelle Hanlon, Jeffrey L. Hoopes, Joel Slemrod

Chapter in NBER book Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 33 (2019), Robert A. Moffitt, editor
Conference held September 27, 2018
Published in July 2019 by University of Chicago Press
© 2019 by the National Bureau of Economic Research
in NBER Book Series Tax Policy and the Economy

This paper examines corporations’ actions, and statements about actions, following the tax law change known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Specifically, we examine four different outcomes—bonuses (or other actions that benefit workers), announcements of new investments, share repurchases, and dividend announcements. We find that 4% of public firms in our sample announced in Q1 2018 they would pay some portion of their tax savings toward workers. In terms of investment, we find that 22% of the S&P 500 firms in our sample mentioned in earnings conference calls that they would increase investment because of the TCJA. We find a general increase in share repurchases following the passage of the TCJA, but the increase is extremely concentrated in a small number of firms. We find only nine firms that announced a new share repurchase plan explicitly attributed the new plan to the TCJA. In regression analysis, we find that both political and economic variables explain TCJA-linked announcements. The analysis suggests that firms with greater expected tax savings from the TCJA are those most likely to announce payments to workers and plans to increase investment. Firms with a Political Action Committee that donates more to Republican candidates are also more likely to announce benefits to employees.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1086/703226

This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w25283, Tax Reform Made Me Do It!, Michelle Hanlon, Jeffrey L. Hoopes, Joel Slemrod
 
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